Czech Republic30 November 1998
The four 432 MWe VVERs at Dukovany provide 19% of the country’s electricity. The two 981 MWe VVERs under construction at Temelin are being modified, in a first-of-its-kind operation, to take a Western I&C system. Uranium production is being run down and all fuel cycle services are imported.
A land-locked country in central Europe, the Czech Republic covers an area of 78 864 km2 and has frontiers with Poland (north east), Germany (west and north west), Austria (south) and Slovakia (south east). There is a population of 10.3 million. The language is Czech and the capital Prague. Other major towns are Brno, Plzen (Pilsen) and Ostrava.
ENERGY RESOURCES AND POLICY
Coal is the dominant indigenous energy resource and accounts for 60% of primary energy supply. Despite efforts to reduce the dependence on coal it is expected to account for 40% of primary energy resources in 2005. There is no oil or gas and only limited hydro resources. The Czech Republic is the largest European producer of uranium. However, mining operations are gradually being phased out on economic grounds.
Energy policy is market oriented, with the energy companies now bearing the risks of investment. The coal industry has been restructured and privatised and the electricity supply industry is investing heavily to reduce the pollution produced by power stations. Direct state intervention in energy companies and utilities is being gradually reduced, but the government will use legislation and other measures to ensure equal access to the market and effective competition, and to create conditions that ensure safe supplies of energy and environmental protection. The country has been historically a profligate user of energy, especially in heavy industry. Much emphasis is now placed on improving the efficiency of energy use to reduce the burden of energy imports and pollution, and to improve the competitiveness of Czech industry. Electricity demand is now being led by domestic consumers rather than industry. Another factor driving the government’s energy policy is the need to meet the requirements for joining the European Union.
GOVERNMENT AND ECONOMIC REFORMS
The Czech Republic was established on 1 January 1993, when the separation from Slovakia, its partner in the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (CSFR), came into effect. The constitution places legislative power in a democratically-elected bicameral parliament (senate and chamber of deputies) and executive power with the prime minister and council of ministers. The president is elected by parliament for a 5-year term. The present Social Democratic government was elected in June 1998.
Growth, which faltered after the separation from Slovakia, increased steadily up to 1996 but has slowed in the past two years. Economic reforms started under the CSFR in 1991 have been continued. These have involved the deregulation of prices, the ending of the state monopoly of foreign trade and the privatisation of state-owned companies and utilities. With the utilities, the government (plus municipalities) has retained a majority holding, but is reducing its direct intervention in their operations. With other organisations that were not completely privatised, there are plans to sell off the shares still held by the National Property Fund (NPF), which was established to control the privatisation process. Almost all companies operating in the nuclear sector are now joint-stock companies.
Legislation governing the nuclear industry was updated in 1997 with the introduction of the Act on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy and Ionising Radiation, the so-called Atomic Act. This defines the roles of the State Office for Nuclear Safety of the Czech Republic (SUJB) and the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA). The Act takes into account recommendations by the IAEA, the International Committee for Radiation Protection and European Union legislation and incorporates commitments resulting from international conventions signed by the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic is an associate member of the European Union and has applied for full membership. It joined the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency in 1996. It has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and is a party to the Paris and Vienna Conventions on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. A Nuclear pool was established in 1995.
At the end of 1997 the total capacity of generating plant installed in the Czech Republic was 15 073 MWe. Some 73% of this capacity is owned and operated by the power generating utility CEZ (Ceske Energeticke Zavody), a joint stock company. The balance is owned and operated by three independent producers, by industrial companies and by heating supply companies. Electricity production in 1997 amounted to 64 598 GWh (78% coal, 2.8% hydro, 19% nuclear and 0.1% other). CEZ accounted for 74.3% of electricity generated. In 1997, 3686 GWh of electricity was exported, 2506 GWh was imported and 2995 GWh was transmitted across the country.
Demand for electricity, having increased in line with GDP since 1994, fell slightly in 1997, and forecasts for future demand have been cut back. Forecasts for installed capacity and electricity production, which are dependent on the government’s national energy policy, will not be available until early 1999.
CEZ currently owns and operates 14 coal-fired stations, a nuclear power station, 15 hydro power stations, a solar station and a wind farm, with a total capacity of 10 999 MWe (67% coal, 17% hydro and 16% nuclear). In 1997 it generated 48 008 GWh (71% coal, 3% hydro, 26% nuclear). It also owns and operates the transmission system (400 kV and 220 kV lines) and is responsible for imports and exports of electricity. Plans are, however, being developed to separate the grid from CEZ power production activity next year, by setting up a CEZ-owned but independently run Central Energy Dispatching (CED) company to control operations. The transmission system is interconnected by 18 lines with foreign systems and CEZ has filed an application to become part of the UCPTE system. Distribution is in the hands of eight regional distribution companies, all of which are privatised with a government/municipal holding of over 50%.
CEZ was privatised in 1992. The NPF owns 67% of the shares and has delegated its rights to the Minister for Industry and Trade, and a further 1% is held by a restitution fund set up to compensate people whose property was confiscated under the former communist regime. The remaining shares, which are traded on the Stock Exchange, are owned by institutions (28%) and by individuals (3%). Almost 22% of these shares are in foreign hands. The government is expected to retain its present shareholding in CEZ for at least 5 years. In January 1998, following an extraordinary meeting requested by the NPF, a new supervisory board and board of directors was selected and executive powers were transferred to the general director and his deputies. CEZ finances its capital programmes from its own resources and loans. The only government support has been a guarantee to the US Eximbank regarding the loan from the Citibank for the equipment and fuel being provided by Westinghouse for the Temelin nuclear power plant. A separate division in CEZ, reporting to the general director, is responsible for the construction of Temelin. There are also sections covering the operation of nuclear power plants, nuclear fuel and purchases and nuclear investments. CEZ is a member of WANO.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade is responsible for the technical regulation of the electricity supply industry and with the Ministry of Finance sets electricity tariffs. The tariff structure is complex and tariff levels have not kept pace with rising costs. A 24% increase in domestic tariffs approved by the previous government last March was well below the 40% that CEZ had been seeking. The new government is reported to favour postponing increases in electricity prices.
CEZ owns and operates the four type V 213 VVER-440 reactors at Dukovany, which are now each rated at 432 MWe, and is responsible for the construction of the two 981 MWe VVER-1000 reactors (type V 320) at Temelin. There are no plans for further reactors.
Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant
The Dukovany units were ordered in 1978 and entered commercial service between November 1985 and January 1988. The units are of Russian design but nearly 90% of the components and systems were supplied by Czech and Slovak companies. Skoda Praha was the main contractor and Energoprojekt Praha the designer/architect-engineer. Dukovany provided 19% of the country’s electricity in 1997, compared with 22% in 1996. The station has had a good operating record with a lifetime load factor to end June 1998 of 79%. It has received generally favourable reports from OSART and ASSET missions. CEZ provides maintenance services with the help of Czech companies.
Following a PSA of Dukovany in 1993 by Ustav Jaderného Vyzkumu Rez (UJV-Rez – Nuclear Research Institute-Rez), a steady programme of modernisation work costing some CZK 1 billion a year has been in progress at the station. Dukovany has also benefited from work financed by the European Union under its Phare programme. In June 1998 the supervisory board of CEZ approved proposals for the replacement of the station’s instrumentation and control system, with work beginning in mid-2002. Bids will be solicited once the design is complete. CEZ says it hopes that the new system can be installed during normal outages over four years per unit and without changes in cabling.
A plan for extending the life of Dukovany beyond its design life of 30 years is being developed. Specific costs for electricity supplied from Dukovany (including provisions for decommissioning, spent fuel storage and waste disposal) are put by CEZ at CZK 668/MWh, compared to a level of CZK 820/MWh from its coal stations.
Temelin Nuclear Power Plant
The two units at Temelin were ordered in 1986 and are scheduled for commercial operation in 2001 and 2002. In 1990-1991 CEZ decided upon fundamental changes to enhance safety features of the original Russian design in accordance with best practice in Western nuclear facilities. Those changes were reviewed by both the International Atomic Energy Agency and NUS Haliburton. The changes involved adapting the already-built Soviet technology to function with Western instrumentation & control systems. This adaptation, similar to that undertaken during the 1980s at the Loviisa nuclear plant in Finland, has posed, CEZ says, technical challenges beyond what had been anticipated in 1993.
As a result, the completion date of the station has been delayed several times and CEZ’s latest estimate (April 1998) of the cost has risen to CZK 99 billion (investment so far CZK 61 billion and CZK 38 billion budgeted cost to complete). The company now expects fuel loading at the first unit to start in August 2000 with full operation eight to ten months later. The second unit is expected to go into service about 18 months after unit 1. The first unit is now five years behind the original schedule and costs have risen by some 43%.
To reduce the financial and schedule uncertainties, CEZ last summer concluded new contract arrangements with Skoda Praha and Westinghouse. However, political uncertainties remain, with the Ministry of Industry and Trade favouring completion and the Ministry of the Environment suggesting cancellation. After lengthy discussions the new government has set up a team to evaluate the future of Temelin. The evaluation is the responsibility of the deputy prime minister and the team will include members from outside the Czech Republic. CEZ has worked closely with the IAEA and several OSART missions have reached favourable results.
Temelin is being finished under the management of Skoda Praha with Energoprojekt Praha as the architect-engineer. Atomenergoprojekt is the contractor for the nuclear island design and Westinghouse, which was the winner of an international tendering competition, is the contractor for the I&C system and the fuel. The Westinghouse contract also includes a radiation monitoring system, diagnostic systems for the primary circuit, and the development of safety analyses for related systems. Westinghouse is employing a number of Czech companies as sub-contactors. These include Regula Praha, ZAT Pribram, Skoda JS, I&C Energo (a joint-venture of Westinghouse and CEZ), GITY, UJV-Rez, and ARis. Among the other Czech companies involved in the construction of Temelin are Skoda turbiny (1000 MWe turbogenerators), Kralovopolska RIA, Modranska potrubni (pipework), EZ Praha (cabling and electrical installation), MOSTRO (valves) and Vitkovice (steam generators and pressurisers).
The country has a long history of industrialisation and Czech companies have not only been heavily involved in supplying equipment and services to the domestic nuclear programme but they have been major exporters to other former Eastern European countries and to Russia. Skoda JS, for example, has supplied for export some 24 sets of reactor equipment, including pressure vessels and reactor internals, and Vitkovice has exported 10 steam generators, 10 pressurisers and parts for reactor internals. Czech companies are now looking to widen their markets both on their own and in co-operation with foreign companies. Skoda JS has delivered fuel racks to South Korea, in association with Siemens, and to the Ukraine and spent fuel casks to the United States. Vitkovice has signed long-term co-operation agreements with Framatome and Siemens.
CEZ is required to develop plans for the decommissioning of its nuclear facilities and to establish a fund for financing the process. At present future decommissioning costs are not reflected in electricity prices and CEZ makes payments from net profits into a reserve fund held by the Czech National Bank. A 1997 study put the cost of decommissioning Dukovany at CZK 12.5 billion and it is assumed that the existing nuclear facility will be replaced by a new one.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Government responsibility for nuclear research policy rests with the Ministry of Industry and Trade. There is a government budget of CZK 100 million a year covering science, nuclear industry and nuclear safety. The main centre for nuclear research is UJV-Rez. It was privatised in 1992 and its shares are owned by the local municipality (3%), Skoda JS (11%), CEZ (30%) and NPF (56%). With the exception of a golden share which ensures the emphasis on nuclear research, NPF is expected soon to reduce its holding or sell it off entirely.
UJV-Rez has a staff of around 610 and it operates through five business divisions, covering nuclear power and safety, integrity and materials, fuel cycle chemistry, reactor services, and support for SUJB. There is a central analytical laboratory, testing laboratory for non-metallic materials and a department of radiopharmaceuticals. It operates two research reactors. The 10 MWe LVR-15 produced 14 686 MWh in 1997. Another research reactor is operated by the CVUT, the Czech technical university in Prague. The training reactor of Skoda JS in Plzen is being decommissioned and the fuel has been transferred to UJV-Rez.
Other organisations engaged in research in the nuclear sector are the Nuclear Fuel Institute, formerly a subsidiary of the state- owned Diamo and now incorporated in Skoda UJP, and EGU Praha, established as a joint-stock company in 1992.
The State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB), the national regulatory authority, was set up on 1 January 1993 as a successor to the Czechoslovak Atomic Energy Commission. The SUJB is an independent body with its own budget (CSK 154.9 million in 1997). The chairman of the Office is appointed by the government and he reports directly to the prime minister. The deputy chairman and the directors of departments and heads of divisions are appointed by the chairman. The chairman also acts as the Nuclear Safety Inspector General and appoints the nuclear safety and radiation protection inspectors. The SUJB is the managing authority for the National Radiation Protection Institute.
The office has three sections, each under a deputy chairman, covering management and technical support, safety and radiation protection. There is also an independent emergency preparedness department, which reports directly to the chairman. There are seven regional radiation protection offices and offices at Dukovany and Temelin for nuclear safety section inspectors.
The new Atomic Act authorises the SUJB to issue a series of implementing regulations. Ten of these were issued in 1997 and another four due for release include regulations on Nuclear Safety and Design, and the licensing and construction of nuclear facilities. Under the Act, any licensing by the SUJB is now classed as an administrative procedure, which implies in practice that objections to any SUJB decision can be raised by any party involved in the procedure. The SUJB issues an annual report on its activities in Czech and English, and meets its obligation to provide information to specialists and the general public by holding press conferences and by publishing a bi-monthly journal and occasional booklets on nuclear safety issues.
The SUJB is responsible for overseeing the training of nuclear plant workers. It licenses control-room operators and administers the State Examination committee, which tests the qualifications of nuclear plant workers. CEZ nuclear workers combine classroom training in Brno with practical training at a power plant. Control- room operators have sessions on the full-scope VVER-440 simulator at Trnava in Slovakia and on-the-job training in the control room at Dukovany. Operators are licensed for two years, after which they must re-qualify with renewed theoretical and practical tests.
General Physics International and the Czech manufacturer Orgrez are manufacturing a full-scope, plant-referenced simulator for Temelin. Under a Phare programme, NNC (UK) is leading a consortium that is developing software for a simulator for Dukovany.
The industrial development of uranium production in the former Czechoslovak Republic began in 1946 and from then until the dissolution of the Soviet Union all the uranium produced in the country was sent there. Currently all uranium related activities in the Czech Republic are conducted by the state-owned company Diamo, based at Stráz pod Ralskem, and consequently all the uranium produced belongs to the government.
The IAEA/OECD-NEA’s Red Book puts the uranium reserves in the Czech Republic at 6630 t in the RAR <$80/kgU category and 30 220 t in the RAR <$130/kgU category. Uranium production reached a peak of about 3000 t in 1960. But with the termination of uranium exports to the Soviet Union and the excess supply in the uranium market, production has been cut back substantially since 1989 and employment in the industry has fallen from around 12 000 to under 3000. Currently only two mines are working, each producing some 300 t/y. These are the underground mine at Rozná in Western Moravia and the Straz ISL facility in northern Bohemia, where uranium is being recovered as part of a remediation programme. The output is processed into U3O8. According to the Red Book, the Czech government holds over 2000 tU in stock and Diamo 700 tU.
How long production will continue at this level is uncertain. The Uranium Institute forecasts that the Czech Republic will produce 680 t of uranium a year through to 2020. But Diamo states that mining will cease at Rozná in 2001 and that preparations for final liquidation are under way. It is concentrating its activities on “liquidation and remediation activities...with a gradual reduction of uranium ore mining”.
There are no facilities for the conversion of uranium, enrichment or fuel fabrication in the Czech Republic. CEZ’s uranium requirements are currently between 335 and 380 tU/y and they will double to 700 tU/y when Temelin is in operation. Technically, CEZ is obliged to buy its uranium from Diamo despite its high price, but the policy is under review. In practice CEZ has contracted with TENEX (Russia) for fuel for Dukovany, along with conversion and enrichment services, and the fuel for the initial load for Temelin is being fabricated by Westinghouse in the US, using Russian uranium and Russian and UK conversion and enrichment. Future fuel loads for Temelin are expected to use Czech uranium, with conversion by French and Canadian suppliers, and enrichment and fabrication in the US. CEZ has also bought some fuel for Dukovany from the abandoned Greifswald reactors in the former East Germany.
Spent fuel and waste management
The interim storage of spent fuel and of nuclear waste is the responsibility of the owners: CEZ (power reactors) and UJV-Rez (research reactors). A decision on whether spent fuel should be reprocessed remains open. At present it is considered uneconomic by CEZ. In the meantime, CEZ has re-racked the pools at Dukovany and the Temelin pools have been built with a storage capability of 10 years. At Dukovany an interim dry-cask spent-fuel store, which came into service in March 1997, will meet the station’s needs until 2005. The store has a capacity of 600 t and will accommodate 60 Castor 440-casks designed by Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Behaelter mbh (GNB) and manufactured by Skoda JS. The store contains 12 casks containing spent fuel from Dukovany that had been held in the Slovak interim storage facility at Jaslovské Bohunice. Spent fuel from the research reactors is held in the High Level Radioactive Waste Facility of the UJV-Rez, which can accommodate all the spent fuel arising during the lives of the research reactors.
The government has now given CEZ permission to extend the interim dry storage facility at Dukovany to accommodate all the spent fuel arisings during the station’s 30-year life. The extension will, however, require a new environmental impact assessment (EIA), which may cause delays. CEZ says another interim storage facility will be built at Temelin after the second unit comes on line. It has been decided to concentrate on on-site storage as being more economical than the alternative proposal for a central interim storage facility at Skalka. This is said to be still available as “a stand- by option”.
LLW power station waste is stored in 200 litre drums in a large concrete-walled ground-level enclosure at Dukovany. The capacity is 55 450 m2. Part of the repository is designed for large pieces of waste and it is considered suitable for storing waste from decommissioning.
The Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA) was set up in 1997 under the provisions of the new Atomic Law. The first chairman is the director of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Section of CEZ. The RAWRA is charged with the organisation and operation of central facilities for the final underground disposal of nuclear waste. Its operations are financed through a “nuclear account” funded by the owners of the nuclear waste. CEZ is making regular payments to RAWRA based on nuclear MWh generated while continuing to bear the costs of interim storage.
An agreement was signed in 1993 between CEZ, SUJB and various ministries to coordinate the project for a repository for spent fuel and high level radioactive waste. Radwaste from industry, research and medical establishments is treated by UJV-Rez and stored at the Richard mine near Litomerice.